Republicans – now in control of both Congress and the White House – are off to a poor start, having initiated their control with an agenda ranging from nefarious to merely symbolic and meaningless.
After a swift public uproar, GOP House members have already backed away from a proposal to gut an independent ethics committee charged with overseeing elected officials’ integrity while in power. Somewhat bizarrely, Republicans also wasted time out of the gate in an attempt to outlaw photography on the House floor. A troubling sign from a party that has expressed great disdain for First Amendment rights.
We shouldn’t be surprised. Republicans effectively govern by not governing – it’s the self-fulfilling prophecy that justifies their radical and paranoid anti-government worldview; by either reducing government’s ability to function or squandering time on trivial nonsense, they can subsequently claim validity of their simplistic view that government simply cannot work.
One measure proffered by Senate Republicans is set to further imperil the Israel-Palestine peace process. Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz rolled out the Jerusalem Embassy and Recognition Act, which would move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – the capital claimed by both Israelis and disenfranchised Palestinians – and formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, a step that would shatter years of compromise and relative neutrality over this particular issue.
While empowering for Israeli conservatives, the immediate ramifications of the bill would probably be unrest and violence. The semblance of peace in the occupied territories – ever precarious – would snap as radical forces in both US and Israeli politics pursued this superficial policy, directly benefiting the radical fringe in Palestine. Without any practical advantages, the bill is simply a bully tactic to exert superiority and dominance in a situation that has suffered for far too long from similiar approaches.
Trump will likely support the measure, though he and Congress’ newly emboldened radical right will surely be met with resistance.